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Saint-Gobain Provides Sapphire-Engineered Armor for U.S. Army and Marine Corps

November 19, 2013
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Saint-Gobain recently announced that the U.S. Army and Marine Corps has received their 100th set of sapphire-engineered armor from the company to make the bulletproof windshields and door windows of the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Launcher safer and more durable. Saint-Gobain Crystals, a Saint-Gobain company, provided the sapphire-based technology. The New Hampshire National Guard, based in Nashua, was the first to have its rocket launchers retrofitted.

Saint-Gobain was awarded a three-year contract valued at approximately $20 million in October 2012. As a result, Saint-Gobain has increased its workforce by 30% at its Milford, N.H., plant. In total, Saint-Gobain will reportedly supply enough armor for 540 vehicles. This next-generation, transparent armor replaces conventional glass-glass armor with an advanced ceramic-based product comprised of large sheets of sapphire laminated with multiple layers of glass and polycarbonate. The mechanical and optical properties of sapphire armor can help defend against the higher threat levels that combat vehicles endure, providing superior ballistic performance, greater than 50% weight savings, enhanced night vision effectiveness and increased durability in challenging environments. As sapphire is second in hardness only to diamond and is chemically inert, the material reportedly performs well in sandy desert conditions and resists etching that typically occurs in the glass as a result of rocket launches. These properties provide a significant improvement in visibility for the operators of the vehicle.

“The U.S. Army and Marine Corps engaged Saint-Gobain because its sapphire-glass armor solution met the Army’s demanding performance requirements and delivered a higher level of safety, durability and visibility for our service men and women,” said LTC Bryan Salyers, U.S. Army Product manager for Field Artillery Launchers. “Ensuring our combat vehicles are equipped with the most advanced technology available is critical to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps mission and the safety of all military personnel.”

For more information, visit www.detectors.saint-gobain.com.

 

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Nathanael Lawton
November 21, 2013
This article states: “As sapphire is second in hardness only to diamond...". While this may be true for optically transparent materials, there are a host of materials with hardness values between those of sapphire and diamond. Just a few are: silicon nitride, silicon carbide, boron carbide, and tungsten carbide. The applications described in the article do require optical transparency.

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